By Jane Austen
Emma is considered by many readers to be Jane Austen’s crowning achievement, a timeless comedy of manners that lays bare the limits on women’s autonomy in Regency England. The disparity between Emma Woodhouse’s self-confidence and self-knowledge, and her determination to arrange marriages for her friends while avoiding one for herself, leads to a painful series of misunderstandings for everyone who suffers from her well-meaning altruism – and with Mr Knightley being the only person of her acquaintance who has the good sense to challenge her, Emma must eventually recognize her match in every sense.
Long praised for its rich detail and perfect craftsmanship, Emma is one of those classic masterpieces that readers go back to again and again for its inexhaustible fund of humanity.
A favourite from my school days, and it would always hold its place my heart. Austen’s characters are always devastatingly good, and Emma is, for me, her best creation.
It is the cleverest of books. I especially love the dialogue – every speech reveals the characters’ obsessions and preoccupations, yet it remains perfectly natural.
I read all of Jane Austen’s novels very early on and learnt to love her economy of style and precision. She still seems to me the finest writer in the English language.
The witty and sharply satirical novels of Jane Austen have an influence that shows no sign of waning, with continual adaptations and echoes in contemporary culture, and an ever-enthousiastic audience.